Interview with Andrew Bryniarski

Interview with Andrew Bryniarski talks with the latest incarnation of Leatherface about pets, horror movies, and stepping into Gunnar Hansen's big shoes.
Updated: 04-14-2004

You may not recognize Andrew Bryniarski's name, but if you are a self-respecting fan of horror, then you definitely know his work as the new Leatherface in 2003's TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. He made Jessica Biel scream like, well, like a girl and he dismembered too many to count in the box office smash.

The DVD is soon to be released and got a chance to chat with the man who brings chainsaw-wielding manic back to life, in this exclusive interview.

Staci Layne Wilson: Your photo had tons of views after the TCM premiere on

Andrew Bryniarski: is my favorite website.

SLW: Thanks!

AB: I feel like Cindy Margolis.

SLW: Now, imagine if you looked like her… with a chainsaw… Could be a whole new career.

First question:

You've been working as an actor for about 15 years now. But do you feel that "Leatherface" is your most visible role, so far?

AB: It hasn’t hurt. Actually one of my fondest memories from way back as a child, are horror movies. I’ve always been a horror fan, so this was a personal breakthrough for me as well as professionally.

SLW: You worked with Michael Bay on Pearl Harbor; is that how the Leatherface role came about?

AB: Yes. Michael and I talked at a Christmas party shortly he after he acquired the rights, and announced his intentions to remake the movie. I thought that was a really ballsy, great idea. Knowing that he’s a capable, excellent filmmaker , I said, ‘Hey, Michael, what about me playing Leatherface?’ It started from there.

SLW: I know you hadn't met Tobe Hooper when you were shooting the movie, but he was at the premiere. Did you get a chance to shake his hand and meet him then?

AB: I did. After the premiere… well, it’s a very personal thing, but I am happy to share it with the fans. I saw him outside the building after the premiere, outside the Chinese Theater. I was already outside, and he walked out and he looked around. I said, ‘Hey, Tobe. I’m Andrew and I played Leatherface.’ He was really happy. He like, ‘Oh my god!’ I told him, ‘I don’t know how much other people have told you, but the whole feeling of us making the movie was out of reverence for you. It’s not at all about how cool everybody thought we were, it’s how cool everybody thought you were. What a great movie you made, and what a great concept it is.’ At that point, he was getting teary-eyed, and…

SLW: No! Say it isn’t so. The high-priest of horror and the champion of chainsaws cries?

AB: [laughs]… and emotional, and I was starting to get emotional, and we just gave each other a big hug and it was a great, tender moment of heart.

SLW: How do you compare your portrayal of Leatherface to Gunnar's? Did you study his work, or did you try to take the character in a totally different direction?

AB: I wanted to raise the bar. I was a big fan of the original movie but you know, I’m a big, athletic guy and I train in martial arts. I’ve played big, tough guys in movies and I thought I could do a more intense, more horrific portrayal of the character if I were given the chance. That’s why I really was thrilled to have a chance to do it. I went back and I studied Gunnar’s performance and I, you know… to raise the bar, you have to know the bar. In order to pay tribute to something in that respect, you can’t miss the bar. You can’t fail. It’s a very important undertaking for me, personally, and it was an honor to do it. Gunnar’s performance was great. But I think our movie is exciting and it’s updated for today’s sensibilities.

SLW: Did you buddy up with any of the actors who played your victims, or did you keep your distance as some movie "monster" prefer to do?

AB: Everybody was very, very cool. When I had the makeup on though, it was a little bit different. They were real supportive, but when I’d have the mask on and the girls were very scared. They didn’t want to talk to me. I creeped Erica Leerhsen out quite a bit. Jessica Biel, she wasn’t bothered at all. She could take anything, but Erica was very creeped out by me – and she let me know, all the time. But she’s a real sweetheart and a great actress. Mike Vogel is a real nice kid. He’s from the real world, as I am. Eric Balfour is a multi-talented actor and musician, songwriter. He’s a lot of fun all the time. Plus Austin, Texas is a great to be, and great place to film. It’s a great atmosphere. So we had a great time.

SLW: Did you read the reviews when Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out?

AB: All of them. I think people got what we were trying to do. Most understand that people go to the movies for mindless escapism and entertainment, especially in a case like this. I liked that most people were genuinely terrified. I loved that 80% of our audience was females under 25. I loved that it scared a lot of guys who didn’t think they could be scared -- including Roger Ebert, I guess. I thought the critics were generally kind in knowing what the movie was. They recognized that we were pretty much faithful to the classic and we were paying tribute to the classic, and that we didn’t disappoint. I was just glad to read, basically, acceptance of the film and for my performance because, you know, everybody wants that.

SLW: The DVD will soon be in stores. Did you participate in any of the extra features?

AB: I did go in and record commentary. So I hope I’m included  in the Platinum Series. There should be a lot of extras that will be really interesting to fans of the genre. It’ll be great for people who are interested in the experience, what it was really like and what we underwent.

SLW: Is there a deleted scene you are really hoping to see on the DVD?

AB: They’re all in there. We did a scene in particular, which caused male viewers to panic in a very intimate way [laughs] – you know what I’m saying? We knew the whole time [we were shooting] that it wouldn’t really be in the theater. The actual cut, so to speak.

SLW: What's the best new horror movie you've seen lately?

AB: I just have to say it: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 is my favorite new horror movie.

SLW: What's one of your favorite classics?

AB: Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera, Maniac, all the Hammer films with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Alien.

SLW: I read that you have cats, turtles, poms and parrots. So, what’s your favorite movie about animals?

AB: The Edge, with Bart the Bear. Bart the Bear should have won the Academy Award. Rest in Peace, Bart.

SLW: What’s coming up for you?

AB: I just finished another horror movie. It’s called El Toro. It’s steaming fresh, so I can’t talk to too much about it.

SLW: Not even to me?

AB: Nope.

SLW: Well, I guess this is goodbye, then.

AB: Thanks, Staci -- thanks,!

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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson for

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